Fri, Apr 20, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: When idiots attack

"Misguided" does not begin to describe the utter idiocy and irresponsibility of two Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators who staged a "mock" attack on National Taiwan University yesterday.

DPP legislators Lin Kuo-ching (林國慶) and Lee Chen-nan (李鎮楠) said they were concerned about campus security in the wake of the tragic massacre at Virginia Tech in the US earlier this week.

This reasoning is not only asinine, it is demonstrative of a disconnect with reality that should be a cause of grave concern to any of the constituents represented by these two infantile miscreants.

No less at fault are the members of the media and Ministry of Education officials who went along with this misadventure. The episode is yet another black mark against the unprofessional nature of most newsgathering organizations in this country.

For reporters to allow themselves to be led around by the nose by people in power, without ever stopping to question their motives and their judgment, is an abdication of the fundamental role of a journalist. A reporter's "observer" status does not grant him or her immunity from one's responsibilities as a citizen and human being or negate the duty to intervene when lives are potentially at stake.

All of the members of the print and broadcast media who accompanied the legislators on their little stunt should, at the very least, have aggressively confronted the lawmakers about what they were doing and, at best, informed the police about what was clearly a criminal act with major safety concerns. However, only a handful reacted with the appropriate concern.

Meanwhile, the DPP should be berated for its usual lackadaisical response. Instead of inanities about "accepting responsibility," the party should be calling for blood. "Revoking membership" is a more appropriate catchphrase to employ.

"Faking" a violent criminal act without the cooperation and advance notification of the police is not only dangerous, it is indicative of a total disregard for even the slightest semblance of common sense.

"Can't legislators have a say in campus security after an international tragedy?" asked Lee, melodramatically weeping at the "injustice" of people calling his judgment into question after the incident.

Well Mr. Lee, since you asked ... No. Absolutely not. The last thing we need is a bunch of superficial politicians jockeying for media coverage and trying to upstage each other with half-baked false alarms that the professionals aren't aware are staged.

In the classic film The Third Man, the hapless protagonist Holly Martins insists on interfering in a complex criminal investigation, prompting Major Calloway to tell him: "Death is at the bottom of everything, Martins. Leave death to the professionals."

When law enforcement officials are called to the scene of what they believe to be a potentially violent situation involving innocent bystanders, they must react with utter seriousness and be prepared to use deadly force to save lives.

The 50-odd police officers who descended on the university did not know that two self-absorbed politicians were desperately trying to establish their relevance as their jobs head toward the chopping block. All that the responding officers knew was that there was a possible hostage situation at a university involving two armed suspects.

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